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Alligators Didn't Get Him. Jury Decides His Wife Did

Denise Williams found guilty on all 3 charges in Mike Williams murder case
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2018 9:50 AM CST
In this Wednesday file photo, defendant Denise Williams listens during her trial for the murder of Mike Williams, in Tallahassee, Fla.   (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool, File)
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(Newser) – Though Denise Williams didn't pull the trigger, a Leon County, Fla., jury found her guilty on Friday of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of her husband, determining she did indeed help mastermind the plot. The 48-year-old was also convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact, meaning she's looking at as long as life in prison. It's the culmination of a bizarre story that began when her husband, Mike Williams, went missing on Lake Seminole on Dec. 16, 2000. The initial line of thought was that he'd drowned and been eaten by alligators. In truth, the man Denise was having an affair with—Mike's best friend, Brian Winchester—tried to drown Mike, shot him in the face, and buried him in a mudhole. Denise and Winchester had been having a three-year affair and ultimately married.

Things later fell apart between them, and Winchester was convicted of kidnapping Denise in 2016. He was granted immunity from prosecution in this case in exchange for testifying against her. The Tallahassee Democrat reports her attorney argued the physical evidence against her was paltry: some concert tickets related to the affair, life insurance documents, and photos from the monthslong search for Mike. The prosecution, however, emphasized a recorded phone call between Denise and Winchester's ex-wife, who twice said Winchester told her the truth and she knew Denise was involved. Denise didn't directly answer but instead tried to shift the conversation. "It's not what she said, it's what she doesn't say," said Assistant State Attorney Jon Fuchs. Denise is to be sentenced next year, reports the AP. She plans to appeal. (Read more murder stories.)

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